Sunderland and West Ham United both climbed away from the Premier League relegation zone after recording potentially important victories on Saturday.
League Cup finalists Sunderland enjoyed a 3-0 success at bitter rivals Newcastle United, while West Ham weathered the dismissal of striker Andy Carroll to overcome Swansea City 2-0 at Upton Park.
Carroll created both of West Ham's first-half goals, knocking the ball down for Kevin Nolan to break the deadlock in the 26th minute and then teeing up the same player to head in a second in first-half injury time.
The former Liverpool striker was then sent off in the 58th minute after catching Swansea centre-back Chico Flores with a flailing arm, but West Ham held on for a win that took them out of the bottom three.
Sunderland leapt up to 12th place in the table after prevailing in the Tyne-Wear derby at St James' Park.
Fabio Borini's penalty gave Sunderland the lead in the 19th minute and Adam Johnson tapped in his seventh goal in seven games four minutes later before Jack Colback sealed victory with a late strike.
With top-four sides Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool not in action, attention later on Saturday will focus on the teams seeking to break into the Champions League places from below.
Fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur and sixth-place Everton will both have eyes on the teams above them as they bid to bounce back from mid-week drubbings.
Thrashed 5-1 by City on Wednesday, Spurs can draw level on points with Liverpool if they win at Hull City, while Everton will look to move on from their 4-0 Merseyside derby mauling when they host Aston Villa.
Defending champions Manchester United, meanwhile, could provisionally move to within 10 points of leaders City if they win at Stoke City.
The league's bottom two clubs are also in action, with Fulham hosting Southampton and Cardiff City tackling Norwich City. – AFP